RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the statewide stay-at-home order will be extended to May 8 during a press conference on Thursday, April 23.
"It is clear that we are flattening the curve, but our state is not ready to ease restrictions," Gov. Cooper said.
Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that the state will need to see a downward trend for 14 days in the number of cases with COVID-19 symptoms, the number of lab-confirmed cases, the number of positive tests as a percentage of total tests and the number of hospitalizations before the state can begin reopening.
Dr. Cohen said that the number of COVID-19 cases in NC are still increasing but at a slower pace. The rate of doubling for COVID-19 cases has also slowed, and the percentage of individuals visiting the emergency room with COVID-19 symptoms is declining.
The state will also need to increase its testing capacity from 2,000 to 3,000 tests per day to 5,000 to 7,000 tests per day as well as increase from 250 tracers to 500 tracers, in addition to stockpiling enough personal protective equipment for 30 days before the first phase of its reopening strategy can be implemented.
Positive tests for COVID-19 in North Carolina rose to 7,608 and 486 people were hospitalized with the virus as of 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 23, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. NCDHHS also reports that 253 deaths have been associated with the virus.
The Raleigh News & Observer newspaper reported that 275 individuals have died from the virus, with 7,759 cases statewide as of 4 p.m. Thursday, April 23.
The numbers reported by the newspaper, which is compiling the numbers of cases announced by counties throughout the day, vary from the daily reports provided by N.C. DHHS. N.C. DHHS has emphasized that not all people with symptoms of COVID-19 are being tested, and the numbers reported by county and state health departments do not represent the total number of people infected throughout the state.
Nationwide, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine reported 856,209 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 4 p.m. on April 23, with 47,272 reported deaths.
A total of 96,185 tests had been completed by the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospitals and commercial labs as of April 23, according to N.C. DHHS.
Avery County has reported no positive tests for COVID-19 as of noon on April 23, one of seven North Carolina counties yet to report a positive test for the virus. According to Toe River Health District, which includes Avery County Health Department, 72 people in Avery County have been tested, with 67 negative results and five tests pending.
“We have two counties that have not received a positive result as of yet. This does not mean there are not positive cases here. This just indicates that no one we have tested is positive nor have we been notified of a positive from another area coming here,” according to a social media post from Avery County Health Department.
Five additional counties in North Carolina have yet to report a positive case: Madison, Swain and Graham in the western portion of the state, and Camden and Hyde counties in the Coastal Plain of NC.
A total of 105 people have been tested in Mitchell County, with 97 negative results, with three results pending. The county has reported five total positive tests for COVID-19, according to TRHD, with four of those cases having recovered. Yancey County reports 81 tests administered, with 79 negative results and two current result pending, according to the Toe River Health District.
Watauga County has eight positive tests among residents, plus a traveler who tested positive who is self-isolating in the county, according to AppHealthCare, the district health department for Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties.
Caldwell County has 26 positive tests as of April 23, while Wilkes County has eight reported cases and one death, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Ashe County has four cases, while the newspaper reported McDowell County with 21 cases and Burke County with 83 cases.
Statewide, Mecklenburg County has reported the most cases with 1,362. Wake County is reporting 630 cases and Durham County reports 469 cases as of April 23, according to the newspaper.